So. Sunday. Big Family Party, Grandfather’s 90th Birthday, complete with relatives from all four quarters of the globe, a good many of whom I hadn’t seen for ten years, and a good many others whom I am a little twitchy around at the best of times, and a great many who don’t speak to each other, and some who did not know the others existed until, ooh, three years ago, despite all being well into their sixties (yea verily, my grandfather has the morals of an alley cat). And it astonished me. It astonished me thusly:
Item: No one fought.
Item: No one cried in the toilets. Not even me.
Item: While we’re talking about me (me me me me!), Diva, covered in mud and smelling of festival, came home just in time for the party and took time to ask me very sweetly if I was OK, and give me a special extra-loving extra-long hug. Trouble didn’t say anything to me at all, but whereas her usual style of greeting is to get me in a judo hold and kiss me so hard I get her chin-imprint in my jaw, on Sunday she was all gentle cuddles and shoulder pats. My sister-in-law (who’s a sweet woman anyway) came up to offer condolences, both to me and H. Fucktard elected to become Brother-in-Law Formerly-Known-As-Fucktard, or Squiggle, and spoke to H about our loss, get this, appropriately. Incidentally, he and Trouble seem to have made up again, and fell asleep arm-in-arm on the couch when everyone else had gone home. And all the above surprised me HUGELY.
Item: My father behaved himself. He got drunk, and he heckled during the speeches, but for him, that is sterling good work. Of course Trouble and I whisper-discussed rugby-tackling him to the floor and dragging him out of the room by his hair, but we love him really.
Item: I am a Great-Aunt. My oldest neice (who, again, I haven’t seen since she was 12 (oh my God, that was ten years ago)), has a baby son.
Item: Did I just say I was a Great-Aunt? Christ Almighty.
Item: Five generations of May’s Clan in that room. F, the Birthday Boy, is father to M (my dad), who is father to S (my oldest sister), who is mother to L (my oldest neice), who is mother to Baby Son. Not even a clan any more. More of a tribe, or possibly a small nation.
Item: My family collect ex-wives. Oy vey, but it was like the finals of the Henry VIII contest in there.
Item: I really do love some of my family very much indeed. And the others are highly amusing (watch anti-smoking termagant May sneak out with the smokers and stand in the rain to chat with them)
Item: Babies and small children everywhere. But I liked it. Crikey. Also, watch Auntie May deal effortlessly with squashed-in-door fingers, wet knickers, spilt glasses of fruit juice, felt-tips pen all over the floor, and having babies grab her fingers and smile (with big ropes of drool).
Item: Oh, yes, and everyone liked my Goth Lite hair.
Item: H and I knew that we’d’ve been telling people about Pikaia that day. That had been the plan, back in May. When I said I’d wear black, H immediately said he’d wear black too. No one really paid it any mind, probably thought it was part of the Goth Lite thing, and we didn’t bring it up. We didn’t need to. It was enough for me that H and I were remembering the littlest cousin who never made it.
Item: And there had to be a nasty surprise, of course. People started arriving early, while I was still covered in dust (moving tables) and mashed fruit (I was making Pimms for sixty. It’s not tidy). I ran up and shouted to H (who was removing even more dust from his person in the shower) to hurry up, and ran down again. No sign of H for a while. Hmm. Finally he came in, said hello, hugged people, and then whispered in my ear that, err, he’d bashed his toe, and could I find the arnica cream for him? Bashed his toe? said I, half listening. Yes, said H. It got in the way of the bathroom door. It went crunch. The toe, that is, not the door.
How H had managed to get his shoe on I don’t know.
And he spent the whole day nobly limping about taking photographs while I harangued him in passing about sitting down and putting his damn foot UP.
When we got home, and he finally took his shoe off again, I, personally, went pea-green. Dear God, but plum-coloured does not cover it. Prune-coloured, possibly, and plum-sized. And the GP this morning confirmed that yes, he had broken his little toe, and he really needed to spend a couple of days sitting DOWN with his foot UP. Hah.